The Top 5 Worst Ship Sinkings of the Last Hundred Years

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When imaging the last century, if you hear terms such as “shipwreck” or “sinking ship,” the chances are good that you immediately imagine the infamous sinking of the RMS Titanic. While that sinking was one of history’s worst maritime disasters, it is actually no longer a part of the history of the last hundred years, happening in 1912 as it did. And awful as that catastrophe was, it was in fact far from the worst wreck of recent history, both in terms of the lives lost or the great loss of money and materiel associated with the infamous ocean liner.

5 The Most Expensive Shipwreck

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In terms of total value both lost and spent in the wake of a shipwreck, the 2002 sinking of an oil tanker called Prestige ranks as the most expensive wreck. The 77,000 tons (that is millions of gallons, FYI) of fuel lost in the sinking were worth millions and millions of dollars alone, as was the massive vessel itself. But it was the massive cleanup effort along the northwestern coasts of Spain and Portugal that was the true cost of the disaster: all said and done, more than twelve billion dollars were expended.

4 The Deadliest Submarine Disaster

In 1963, the USS Thresher sank off in deep water off Cape Cod. All 129 hands were lost. It was the first nuclear submarine to be lost, and remains the worst disaster ever endured by our submarine fleet. The sinking likely occurred as a result of electrical equipment damaged by leaking seawater causing a reactor shutdown. The crew tried to surface by blowing out its ballast tanks, but the Thresher was too deep for the maneuver to work, and it sank below its crush depth.

3 The Deadliest Sinking of a US Navy Ship

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On December 7th, 1941, the Japanese surprise attack on Pearl Harbor left more than 2,400 Americans dead. More than 1,770 of those lost were crewmen of the USS Arizona, a battleship that sank while sitting at anchor in the harbor, ostensibly at peacetime. The Arizona has never been raised, as it still serves as the gravesite of most of those dead men.

2 The Worst Cruise Ship Catastrophe

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We have heard many recent tales of passengers stranded on stinking cruise ships with disabled engines or about outbreaks of awful sicknesses raging among hundreds of passengers or about attempted cruise liner raids by Somali pirates. If all that is not enough to deter you from taking a cruise, then forget not the disastrous grounding of the Costa Concordia. This wreck, precipitated by a truly moronic (and cowardly) captain, took the lives of more than 30 passengers and created an environmental disaster area, not to mention an eyesore on a massive scale.

1 The Deadliest Sinking of the Last Hundred Years

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The deadliest sinking of the past hundred years is in fact quite likely the deadliest shipwreck of all time. More than 9,300 died when a Soviet submarine torpedoed the German ship Wilhelm Gustloff in January of 1945. And sadly, while the Soviets and Germans were very much at war at the time of the sinking, the Wilhelm Gustloff was not carrying soldiers or sailors, but was ferrying mainly war refugees, with about 4,000 of them being children.

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